It's estimated that about 3-16% of U.S. adults have a fear of the dentist.
Some people develop this fear from previous, painful dental experiences. Others develop it from indirect sources such as the media's portrayal of dentists or other factors.
However, if you avoid the dentist, you're also avoiding dental care and treatment for your teeth, which can lead to poor oral health.
There are ways you can manage your anxiety and get over your phobia so that you can get the dental care you need. Want to learn how? Here are five ways to overcome your fear of the dentist.
1. Find a Dentist You Trust
Find a dentist that you feel comfortable with to discuss your dental phobia. Do your research and ask people you know to recommend a dentist.
You can also ask your doctor for a recommendation. You can also read reviews for dentists online.
2. Communicate Your Fears and Anxieties
Once you decide on a dentist, visit their office to get a feel of their dental practice and ask them questions. Be open about your fears and anxieties.
Many times, people with anxieties are embarrassed to talk about their fears because they feel like others will judge them. However, it can be a relief to share your anxieties. What's more, your dentist won't be able to help you if they don't know how you feel.
You can talk to your dentist and tell them what it is about the dental experience that triggers you so that they're aware of it. For example, maybe it's the sound of loud instruments that gets your heartbeat racing. The dentist can help you by giving you a warning before he or she turns on a loud instrument.
Also, you and the dentist can come up with a hand signal to stop or take a break during treatment if you're feeling uncomfortable.
3. Consider Your Health
If you need a reason to overcome your fear of the dentist, consider your health. It's not just about your oral health either. Your oral health affects your overall health.
Poor oral health can lead to gum disease. Gum disease is connected to other diseases including diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and respiratory disease.
In fact, individuals with gum disease are two times more likely to die from a heart attack. They also have a higher chance of suffering a stroke.
4. Think About Your Future Healthy Smile
When building up the courage to make that dental appointment, or walk into the dental office, remind yourself of the end results. When you're done with treatment, you'll have a healthier, happier, brighter smile.
If you need a particular treatment such as a root canal, remind yourself how the pain will be relieved after this treatment. If you need dental implants, tell yourself all about a dental implants' value.
5. Bring a Family Member or Friend
You can bring a friend or a family member with you to your dental appointments. They can be a hand to hold or a reassuring voice during your dental treatment.
You might find that you don't need your friend or family member to accompany you after the first visit.
Final Advice For Getting Over Your Fear of the Dentist
Many times when it comes to dental fears and anxieties, the hardest part can be taking the first step. For some, the first step can be simply calling the dentist and scheduling an appointment.
However, remember that by overcoming your fear, you are taking care of your dental health and your overall health. And afterwards, you can walk out of the dentist with a healthier smile.
To learn more tips about visiting the dentist, check out our blog.